Latvia pride is a go, court rules
Ross von Metzke | July 25, 2005
Just days after city officials banned the first ever Gay Pride Parade in Latvia, a court has reversed the ban, allowing organizers to move forward with the planned festivities in the country�s capital city Saturday.
The decision was handed down in the Riga District Administrative Court Friday afternoon.
�We salute the decision of the Court and consider it a victory for democracy and reason over prejudice and hate,� said Pride organizers, the Gay and Lesbian Youth Support Group. �It is a victory not just for the LGBT community in Latvia, but for the entire Latvia.�
As reported earlier this week by Gay Wired, city authorities cited �security reasons� for issuing a ban on the ceremony. The announcement came less than 24 hours after the country�s prime minister deemed the event offensive.
Earlier in July, event organizers applied for and were granted permission from city authorities for the parade. But authorities reversed their decision on Wednesday, saying the prime minister�s remarks ignited a �hate campaign� by political and religious organizations.
Pride organizers said they are aware of the security concerns.
�There are various extremist organizations that have openly expressed their determination to destruct the march and we believe tomorrow will be a serious test for the Latvian police to demonstrate their duty to protect Latvian citizens and their guests – and their right to free and peaceful expression,� organizers said in a statement.
According to gay rights activists in the Eastern European country, the gay and lesbian community has been struggling to find a political voice after having been forced underground during nearly five decades of Soviet occupation, which ended in 1991.
Following the court�s decision, organizers said this marks a huge step toward change in the country. They also thanked the many throughout the world who had supported Riga Pride following Wednesday�s ban. – Gay Link Content
Homosexual relationship registration bill dies in Latvian parliament [30/11/1999]